10 Mistakes Rookie Contractors Make (Part 4 Of 4)

contractor mistakes

10 Mistakes Rookie Contractors Make: Part 4

Today we continue to explore common mistakes that Rookie Contractors make in their first year. In our last several posts have ranged from rookie contractors who lack vision to those who fail to pay themselves. Today we will look at the final three mistakes Rookie Contractors make in their first year:


Mistake #9: Creating an Environment with High Employee Turnover


Employee turnover will slowly kill your business. High turnover will rob you of time with your family and will take away from other leadership functions that desperately need your attention.  It’s not enough to simply want your employees to stick with you. You need to understand why workers come and go. Workers often leave because they don’t like their boss. You must create a management team (including foremen and crew leaders) who know how to get the most out of crews/subs without disrespecting them. Good workers know they will always have options down Joe-Contractor down the street. Here’s how to become “a contractor people want to work for.”


    • Offer workers plenty of hours. If you can’t provide enough hours, workers will look elsewhere.
    • Treating employees with respect. This is obvious but often neglected.
    • Pay on the high-end of the wage scale. You get what you pay for.
    • Listen to feedback and ask questions. Admit it, you don’t have all the answers.
    • Share your profits. Share the love.
    • Provide workers with the tools they need to be successful
    • Create an “us” culture. Failing Contractors often perpetuate a “me vs. you” culture where management is suspicious of employees and visa-versa. This is a slow, painful death.


Find the right people and retain them. If you do nothing else, this just might be the difference between you and the guy who doesn’t make it in the contracting business.


Mistake #10: Underestimating How Difficult Start-up Really Is


We hear too many success stories from start-up contractors. But who is out there advertising their failures? This imbalanced can leave rookie contractors with unrealistic expectation. Starting a contracting business is hard like trudging through mud, uphill, against the wind. You will work harder than you thought necessary for less money than you hoped for. Your social life and hobbies will suffer. Those who know this brutal reality awaits are poised to persevere. However, walking blindly into contracting with rose-colored expectations is a quick ticket to discouragement. If you like taking it easy, want a predictable 9-to-5, and low stress don’t dare start your own Contracting business. Work for someone else and let them carry the stress. But if you know it’s your time and you are willing to make the sacrifices; don’t be so foolish as to expect it to feel like a vacation. Be sober-minded but resolved and you will see your company realize the vision that got this whole thing started.

Bonus Tips


Don’t do the following:

    • Bid on jobs which require equipment you don’t have or can’t easily affordable to rent.
    • Take jobs you don’t have the expertise to complete.
    • Do the work you enjoy instead of the work that will make your company profitable.
    • Take on more jobs than you can reasonably attend to at any one time.
    • Fail to follow up with clients, leads, or subs. Busyness is no excuse.
    • Fail to say please and thank you.
    • Fail to finish what you start.


What rookie mistakes did you make when starting out in the construction business?


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